Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Hindu Death Spiral Watch: Letters from Rahul Basu

In his comment on my previous post on the Hindu Death Spiral Watch, Rahul Basu, a theoretical physicist at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, has given us the text of his letter deploring the newspaper's Tibet coverage. Basu's letter was cited by the Readers' Editor in his column.

Over at Tantu-jaal, Sunil Mukhi, a string theorist at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, has posted another letter by Rahul Basu, together with Gautam Menon (IMSc, Chennai), Rajesh Gopakumar (Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad) and Rukmini Dey (Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad). The letter is nominally about a recent exchange in the Letters section, but quickly moves on to cataloging the Chinese government's misdeeds, and asks that the Hindu stop "[taking] a purely partisan one sided view of the issue by aligning itself unquestioningly on the side of the Chinese Government."

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In other news, ToI launched its Chennai edition three days ago.

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In yet other news, Rahul Siddharthan has posted an important message on his blog ;-).


  1. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    Ram was originally appointed as the "editor-in-chief" (a post that didn't previously exist) in a "palace coup" provoked by the Hindu's legal troubles with the Jayalalitha government. His brief was to strengthen the quality and objectivity in news reports and opinion pieces.

    Not only did this not happen, but Ram is clearly losing it: his reply to the public editor (a Hindu insider that he himself appointed amid much fanfare!) sounds quite unhinged. I think letters to the editor are pointless. The management (does that mean N. Murali?) should wake up and replace Ram (or perhaps appoint a "Supreme Editor-in-Chief" above him?)

  2. Anonymous said...

    also a drop in The Hindu's price, I am told.

    A bit extreme I think.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Interestingly, the reader's editor quoted my letter to him. This is the full letter that I wrote to him. I also copied it to the editor with some modifications. But needless to say, the letter never appeared in print.

    "I am sure that mails have been pouring in your inbox on The Hindu's coverage of the affairs related to Tibet and China. I am sure that you along with others in your staff can see the incoherence between reality and what is being reported in Hindu. I am also sure that you must have discussed it with your editors and editor-in-chief and have received some kind of response. I am also sure that you know most of these criticisms are not from rightwing fanatics, anti communists, online readers, or those who just want to score a point. Most of it as evidenced from the plethora of complaints put up on internet, is coming from longtime readers, those who have grown up with this newspaper, many of whom share its progressive ideals. Your editor has himself admitted to editorializing news content. That is an euphemism of propaganda. This mixing of propaganda, particularly in the coverage of affairs related to China and CPM, is an insult to reader's intelligence. It must be imperative to remind your editor that nobody is a fool. The readers of Hindu read it to gain knowledge about the affairs of the world, not to satisfy any base desire to submit to propaganda. Every person, including the editor is free to have his political inclination affect the job he does. But if an individual is not ready to put his convictions under the test of reality, and then impose them on his organization and in turn to the customers, it is the loss of entire ecology.

    Is the newspaper, particularly its editor, more powerful than its readers? Can we readers not claim any space in it? Why are we treated as garbage by the editorial staff, whose only role is to pay the cover price. We want a newspaper that is bold enough to test its own convictions. Whose roots are in humanistic ideals, not political ones. Is one man's political compulsions more important than a 125 year old newspaper and millions of its readers? Is this powerlessness not bring the same kind of frustration when we see the Murdoch corporation manipulating truth through its empire?

    From the semantics, reader's editor belong to the readers. Reader's wishes, their views and comments, their mandate, is the reader's editor's mandate. At least you can highlight reader's reactions, especially those that are critical of the newspaper's content. Why don't you dedicate one column to the reactions that you have received in context of the Tibetan unrest. Most importantly, I want to know, does your column pass through the same kind of editorializing that every other news report in Hindu does?

    During the incident of Nandigram in March 2007, I stopped my subscription the Hindu. But I could not sustain myself not reading Hindu for more than three months. I also realised that me subscribing or not subscribing to Hindu does not change a thing for the newspaper. It is my own loss not being able to read some of my favourite columnists. As my father says, 60% of Hindu is absolutely honest. One just need to ignore the parts covering CPM and China/CPC.

  4. kailash said...

    The Hindu or N.Ram are biassed towards the Tibet ,Srilankan and West Bengal issues . They are siding with Goverment and not with the truth